Arbor Green may call Scotland home, but his love of the American indie folk settles his sound in neither continent. It floats over the Atlantic calling neither home, but fitting in easily in both. In his debut single, “Margaret”, the Scottish indie folk pessimism peaks through the rich layers of an atmospheric American alt-country sound.
Ali Begg (guitar and vocals) sets the bittersweet tone with band members Thomas Caldwell (guitar and vocals), Sam Bradley (bass and vocals), and Simon Gibb (drums and percussion). The distant, yet sparkling texture of the guitar riff over a washed out bed of ambience prepares the ear for the melancholy heartache and contemplative gratitude of the narrative.
“I never said goodbye,” they contemplate. Neither complaining nor desiring, it’s a statement of fact. By 2:18, the reflection shifts to projection—what does this contemplation mean. The swelling harmony matches the lyrical shift. Guest drummer James MacKintosh (Shooglenifty) and vocalist Hannah Fisher (Idlewild, King Creosote) add to the mix.
The music keeps changing, even as we’re left with the sensation that nothing’s changed. The word “home” is sung over changing chords with what could be described as a slow vibrato. It’s almost a pedal point in stability.
As the end approaches, the sound quiets back down. A recorded voice narrates another moment, mirroring the nostalgic footage in the music video. But unlike lo-fi genres, this voice has an almost Sprechstimme-quality. Even this memory is elevated and makes us long for the past.
Watch the music video for “Margaret” below.
Ben is an advertising Madman who spends his days with words and music. When he’s not writing for his supper, he’s eating it at some of NYC’s most interesting restaurants.